In 1999, leaders from BC Cancer, working with Nobel Laureate Dr. Michael Smith, created the world’s first "Genome Sequencing Centre" to be embedded within a cancer clinic.
Since then Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre at BC Cancer (GSC) has worked with local, national and international partners on the Human Genome Project, on many cancer projects and on reference genomes for a diversity of species. In 2003, it was the first in the world to sequence the genome of the SARS coronavirus. By 2006, it received one of the world's first "next generation" DNA sequencing machines (the Solexa/Illumina) and became famous for high throughput and large scale DNA sequencing. Today, the GSC has sequenced nearly three quadrillion (3,000,000,000,000,000) bases of DNA sequence—equivalent to nearly one million human genomes.
The GSC has trained thousands of highly qualified personnel in genomics, computational biology and bionformatics. It has published many thousands of peer-reviewed papers in some of the world's most influential peer-reviewed scientific journals, attracting nearly 100,000 citations to date. It has been part of hundreds of diverse research projects in the health and life sciences and has contributed to many thousands of national and international research collaborations. Its principal investigators have been leaders on projects awarded more than $1 billion from more than one hundred different funders around the world. In 2019, 11 GSC researchers were recognized among the most highly cited in their field in the world.
Today, the GSC is bringing genome sequencing and bioinformatic techniques and expertise to whole populations of cancer patients, helping to prevent, diagnosis and treat many different cancers in entirely new ways. It is identifying risks for hereditary cancers and other diseases, revealing causes of rare genetic disorders, uncovering unique therapeutic targets and ultimately making discoveries that are shaping the world's fundamental understanding of life, health and disease.